A Testimony of Gratitude
Thank you so much for your generous scholarship donation that helped me attend LEAD and the Steubenville Conference this summer. I don’t mean to sound cliche’, but both these experiences have truly changed my life. Coming into the LEAD week, I was very nervous. I knew I would learn more about my faith, but I didn’t know to what extent. The mentors for LEAD directly impacted my experience in the best way possible. I cannot stress how influential they were by their example of love, service and faith. I deepened my faith in the daily prayer opportunities we had each morning. Previously, my daily prayer consisted of my trying to rush through it as quickly as possible without much thought or reflection. During LEAD, we were encouraged to be reflective and simply sit there and listen. At first, I struggled to remove my distractions and random thoughts. Towards the end of the week, though, I found so much inner peace and was able to find God in the silence.
This intimate relationship was what I was longing for and was never able to achieve because I was too busy talking and never allowed God to speak.
The main thing I learned was the power of friendship. I struggled to build positive relationships throughout high school. I didn’t have any close friends in my grade and I felt alone many times. I would bounce between different groups but no one really knew me for me. They only saw me as someone who was extremely busy and focused. I didn’t realize how badly this lack of friendship had scarred me until coming to LEAD. After the first night, everyone immediately connected in such a personal way. I had not experienced anything like it and I couldn’t believe that these people had only known me fo one day! During that week, I felt I was my most authentic self. I didn’t have to be fake or try to please others with my words or actions. I was completely and utterly joyful to be surrounded by such amazing souls. I knew God purposely wanted to help me get rid of the lonely and empty feeling I had suppressed for so long. I am so grateful to be able to share my faith and surround myself with individuals who are striving for the same foal I am – HEAVEN.
I will live out the conference theme of “Belong” by actively utilizing the skills I have gained from LEAD. Throughout the week we learned about the importance of daily mass, daily prayer, confession, silence and accountability partners. I will be heading off to college this fall, but I don’t see it as an obstacle in my faith journey. I belong in the Catholic Church and I will continue to run to Jesus Christ.
I will never be able to fully describe how grateful I am for this opportunity. I know my worth, I know my identity, and I know my trust lies in the Lord.
Thank you for this scholarship and supporting retreats and conferences for youth like me. Lydia